09/09/2014 10:07 EDT | Updated 11/11/2014 05:59 EST

Rick Brown Trial Hears Mountie, Others Watched Women Have Sex In Jail Cell

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - A junior RCMP officer boasting to a superior about what he saw when two female prisoners engaged in sex acts in a Kamloops jail cell sparked an investigation, the trial of a veteran Mountie heard Tuesday.

The trial of Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Rick Brown began in B.C. Supreme Court with that information — plus a revelation that one of the two women involved has since died.

Brown was charged with breach of trust by a public officer following an incident in the cellblock of the Kamloops RCMP's Battle Street detachment in the early-morning hours of Aug. 18, 2010.

A jail guard, David Tompkins, pleaded guilty to the same charge and was placed on one year of probation. Charges against two other RCMP constables, Evan Elgee and Stephen Zaharia, were dropped.

Prosecutor Winston Sayson outlined on Tuesday the Crown's case against Brown, a Mountie with more than two decades of police experience and who was at the helm of the Kamloops detachment when the sex acts took place.

Sayson told the court the two women were arrested for unrelated matters earlier in the morning. Both were heavily intoxicated and one of them had to be physically carried into the drunk tank by four officers, he said.

"Eventually, they began physical contact," Sayson said. "The physical contact evolved into explicit, hardcore physical acts."

Sayson described the acts as "digital penetration" and "fisting."

A group of Mounties and jail guards — including Brown — watched the sex acts on a monitor via closed-circuit television, he said.

Court heard jail guard David Tompkins used a detachment phone to call the watch office and invite others to join them.

"He said, 'Brownie says you've got to see this,'" Sayson said, explaining "Brownie" was Brown's nickname at the detachment.

No one intervened in the sex act, the trial heard.

Afterwards, Elgee described the incident to RCMP Cpl. Kelly Butler, using the words "full-on fisting" and mentioning one of the women claimed to be HIV-positive, Sayson said.

Butler wrote an email expressing her concern about the incident to Brown and a superior staff-sergeant.

"Her email ... resulted in an investigation being undertaken by the Kamloops RCMP," Sayson said.

Defence lawyer Glen Orris provided a brief opening statement following Sayson's remarks, calling the Kamloops detachment "chronically understaffed" at the time of the incident.

The first witness at trial was retired RCMP Cpl. Duncan Hewitt, a former member of the force's professional-standards unit and the officer who undertook a code-of-conduct investigation after word of the incident came to light.

Hewitt said he first became aware when approached by then-Insp. Yves Lacasse, who called for an investigation.

Hewitt also formerly served as a fill-in watch commander — the role Brown occupied when the jail sex incident happened.

Hewitt described it as a supervisory role and said the watch commander is at the top of the detachment pecking order when the officer in charge is not in the building.

"Basically, when you're the watch commander, members end up going through the chain of command and going to you," Hewitt said.

"You're their supervisor. They're looking for direction."

Sayson said the Crown intends to call 17 witnesses during the trial, which is slated to run for three weeks.